Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Yet Another Validation of Our Decision to Homeschool

Okay, I know that it's not a great idea to blog while angry, but I just need to vent! The superintendent of my local school district came to speak at the monthly meeting of the moms' club in my town to try to sell us on their schools.

I went because I was curious to hear what she had to say- particularly since in the most recent round of state report cards, only 1 school in the district scored both in the top 10% of schools with similar demographics and in the top 10% statewide. And that particular school doesn't even have enough room for all the students living in the very expensive neighborhood it serves, let alone any other students in the district. The other 4 schools in the district that scored in the top 10-20% statewide are in the bottom 10-40% when compared to ones with similar demographics (including my neighborhood school). I know standardized test scores aren't the be-all and end-all of school assessment, but such underperformance *is* a real reason for concern.

Anyways, I politely listened to the superintendent's spiel and she kept talking about the district's commitment to parental choice, blah, blah, blah.

After all the other moms had asked their questions, I posed mine: what's the rationale for the district waiting until 4th grade to start their gifted program and what is being done to meet the needs of those children in the earlier grades?

First, she claimed that under California state law gifted children are supposed to be served in the regular classroom. Please pardon my French, but that's a load of total B.S.! The Balboa magnet school for highly gifted kids down in Northridge (near L.A.) starts in 1st grade. If our district chose to start GATE in the primary grades, they totally could do so.

Then she starts talking in an extremely condescending way about there being a difference between regular gifted kids and highly gifted kids (duh!), and how the latter need a qualitatively different curriculum and how they often have social difficulty in regular classrooms (double duh!)

At this point, I stopped her and said that I understand the difference between gifted and highly gifted (to be civil, I didn't add that I'm pretty sure I know way more about the subject than she does given the amount of reading I've done over the past 4 years since it became clear that DD was unusually bright). I then asked again what is being done to meet their needs prior to 4th grade.

She then claimed that gifted kids get differentiated instruction in their regular classes. More B.S. I'm sorry, but when there are 19 other kids in the classroom including those with disabilities and those who aren't yet fluent in English, the gifted kids aren't getting much (if anything) in the way of individualized instruction. Of course, I simply kept my mouth shut and nodded but inside I was fuming.

So I got my answer- the district really doesn't care about the needs of gifted kids in the primary grades. I had suspected as much, which is why we're homeschooling, but now I've got my proof.

The district is more than happy to take the tax money we pay via our rent and on DH's salary. But they don't want to make an effort to provide an appropriate education to our child :-(

1 comment:

christinemm said...

Good post. Glad you vented as it was interesting to hear your story!

What the schools want is bodies in the seats. Period.

I also bet that the gifted kids are not being served in any special way within the regular classrooms.

It benefits schools to label kids with a LD so they get more $$ for more specialists. That is why they focus so much on the weaknesses of students. If the government gave double the amount of $$ for kids labeled as gifted we'd suddenly have a boom of gifted kids in this nation!!